Vance Airman runs 100 miles at Oklahoma Ultramarathon

  • Published
  • By David Poe
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
If an Airman starts running at 9 a.m. on Oct. 17 and stops 29-and-a-half hours later, how far has he run?

The answer: 100 miles.

Master Sgt. Torry Brittain, a Vance Wing Staff Agencies Airman, completed his first 100-mile ultramarathon when he finished the Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd at Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Oct.18.

Brittain, who represented Vance at the 2015 Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio, in September, joined almost 300 runners from across the country who ran distances from 10 kilometers to 135.6 miles.

The challenge, hosted by TZ Trail Runs, broke up the 100-mile run into three 33.3-mile laps that led runners through the JT Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve, a gateway to the Ozark Mountains.

Brittain said although fatigue didn't kick in until later hours of the evening of Oct. 17, the first lap was the toughest to complete.

"I did the first lap by myself," he said, "and my anxiety was 'am I going to finish this?'

"When I left for lap two, I hit a wall right when I left," he said. "It was when I caught up with two other runners, and we hung together - that helped get me through."

Veteran trail runners considered the course "technical" due to its elevation varieties ranging from 850 to 1,250 feet.

"There's a joke on the [TZ Trail Runs] web site that says the hills get bigger with each lap - it's really not a joke," Brittain laughed. "They feel bigger, they feel steeper, they feel longer every time you go up them."

Brittain said on the third lap, which started after 3 a.m. on Oct. 18, he was able to pay forward the boost he had received earlier in the evening.

"When [my running partner] mentally crashed I was able to be her pacer," he said. "I made sure she was eating and drinking - at one aid station she said 'you can leave me behind and go faster,' but I said 'no, I'm going to bring you in.'"

Brittain credited two life skills for helping him endure his almost 30-hour challenge - both of which are Comprehensive Airman Fitness principles.

"It was easier to focus on the positives," he said. "We'd celebrate our little milestones like 'hey we're halfway to the next aid station,' or 'we just hit 60-something miles.' Conveying those things to help her be more positive in turn helped me be more positive."

Also, he said he took to the challenge in parts, rather than allowing himself to be overwhelmed by the whole, overcoming each obstacle one rise, turn or downhill at a time.

"Overall, it was easier than I thought it was going to be," Brittain said. "I thought it was going to be a 'suffer fest.' It didn't end up that way.

"'This is happening,' I said and got a little choked up," he recalled thinking to himself when he crossed the finish line more than a day after he started. "I'm finally there."